Don Paglia | Marriage and Family Counseling. Constellations Workshops


Tip #20:

“I am not against golf, since I cannot but suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering trout.”  Paul O’Neil

We often act as though we’re the central characters from the movie, Bob and Ted’s Adventure, screaming their infamous line, “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!” It doesn’t need to be spoken aloud. Many just think this to themselves. But what would happen if we thought and acted like we were worthy, instead? My suspicion is we’d not be boastful and egotistical. Rather, we’d be humble, while also more content, as well as, more purposeful. Instead of living lives chock full of pretense, fretting about “looking good” or hoping we’ll “fit in,” we’d live humbly and have a joyous, satisfied life.

Several years ago a friend confessed he secretly felt like he was “a fraud waiting to be exposed.” I think too many might relate to this. We might not say it out loud but maintain it as an inner secret, all the while putting on our public happy face. Except for people like the Dali Lama, Jesus, Buddha, mature members of AA, or those enlightened people who occasionally surface, most wear their game face and go gingerly about so as to not let others know what they are convinced of, namely: “I’m not worthy.” It’s really living unconsciously, unaware of who we actually are. It’s not knowing we are both loved and lovable and, instead, being convinced of just the opposite

Such a conviction, logically requires going about one’s life as though, either everything depends totally on you, or that there is nothing you can do to make any difference regarding life’s presenting circumstances. Both of these convictions speak of a poor self-esteem. The first of these strategies is a narcissist approach. The other is a victimization, “poor-me” one.

Both are part of the same problem. Narcissists try to compensate for a lack of self-esteem by puffing themselves up. The victim starts and stays in the overwhelmed and helpless state. Both strategies are either ends of the same spectrum. They mean the same thing, and stem from not believing one is loved and lovable. Poor self-esteem is at the core of an existential crisis we presently face. It bespeaks a societal spiritual crisis. Each approach produces an alienated life, along with loneliness, as well as, a huge disconnection from our shared common humanity.

In a recent interview Stephen Colbert stunned Anderson Cooper, and many others, with his comments about life. Colbert, who lost his father and a brother when he was 12, said he sees life as precious. He said everything that comes with life is therefore a blessing; you cannot pick and choose only parts of life. Life comes with good and bad and he sees all of it as gift. We are to find the blessing in it all. Surprising comments from a comic. Actually surprising stuff from anyone. It is not what most Americans would have to say about life’s difficulties.

Some people pray. They ask that God lift their crisis or the hardship at hand in some miraculous way. Sometimes this occurs. If it does or does not occur they lay it entirely at the feet of their God. They remain passive and helpless.

Others take the approach they must bring herculean efforts into play in order to remove their burden. They believe they alone are solely responsible to undertake their situation. It is completely up to them to fix or resolve whatever they are experiencing.

I subscribe to a two-headed approach: trusting that everything depends on God, while at the same time, acting as though everything depends on us. While doing this Both-And approach we must also look to find the silver lining within our current dark cloud. Colbert spoke of the grief he experienced, and while not wanting this to have happened, he eventually came away with an inner strength, as well as, compassion and empathy for others experiencing loss and grief.

People who think it is solely and totally up to their God while remaining, or hold to the notion that everything totally depends on them and them alone, are both wrong! What they’re missing is an ability to see their own profound connection to a Greater Soul – a divine presence beyond any one of us – one that holds each of us intimately close, and also holds all of us together. This Greater Soul, some call God. I call it the Unimaginable Sacred Mystery (USM). I contend, this USM wants only the best for each and every one of us. This USM is a God of Inclusion; who absolutely loves everyone. This USM includes all; no one gets excluded. This runs counter to our great American myth of rugged individualism where everyone is out for him/her self.

In our relationship with this USM we are not the Lover; we are the Beloved. Our task is to accept this love – a love that is infinite, total, and inescapable. We cannot earn it; we cannot lose it.  This love defines who we are. Since we are created by this Ultimate Creative Source we are made from the very essence of the Creator: a divine goodness. We contain a “spark” of this divine goodness and love. It is our essence. And it is also what gives us our purpose. Simply put: We’re to express this God given love out in the world and to somehow make a positive difference. We’re to make the world a bit better than is was before we got here. Some would say, we are here to “Change the World.”

If we fully embraced this we’d live quite differently. We’d live each day as if this life is a precious gift. Our lives would be in alignment accordingly, and we’d not be about merely surviving. We’d be all about thriving! We’d not be anxious or concerned about ourselves. We’d relax. We’d have huge and audacious dreams – dreams we KNOW are aligned with our purpose. We’d not be dodging others who might be onto us and ready to “expose” our misguided fraudulence.

Since we are made from this creative love sourced from the Ultimate Source we’d be into our own creativity, as well as, honoring everyone else’s required freedom to author their lives. Underneath our fears and anxieties is a human person yearning to preserve freedom to self-create. By understanding this essential freedom operating within all living systems we would foster the empowerment all of humanity. We’d align with others wanting the same, and we’d see our intimate connection. We’d also protect our planet as the sacred living organism it truly is.

Everyone deserves a place at the table to determine the collective solutions for our life together. To exclude those within any system to rethink, redesign, or restructure the system they belong to is unwise – be it a family, a school, a business, government, or organization. Trying to “sell” a solution made by the few to those that make up the whole system later after “solutions” are determined, is pure folly.

It never matters how visionary or important the message from the so-called “leaders” may be, it can only elicit straightforward compliance or reactions, but most likely not much “buy in.” Those left to be convinced won’t really see the “reality” that is being presented by the powers that be. By not engaging all at the start of the process toward a possibly viable solution is to dishonor all and continue in the problematic either/or, and the “in” or “out” state of disconnection and disharmony. It also perpetuates the “unworthiness” thinking about others and/or ourselves. It is certainly not the way to bring about transformation.

Wherever one might go to slow their life down so that a contemplative life is possible is the right place to start. I have nothing against golf, and it may be that place for you. But let me say this: there is plenty of room along the metaphorical river banks for all those interested and deserving of the right to discover the joys that can and will spring from “fishing for trout.”